15 May 2020

"In some regards NZ's lockdown for Covid-19 has been very similar to my cancer experience. Being isolated and apart from friends and family for an extended period and not being able to venture outside"

Mo bro Dan Sharples on the lessons he learnt from his cancer battles that are helping him during lockdown
Real Stories

Two years after being diagnosed with stage two testicular cancer during my OE in England, April 2020 was meant to be the month where my life got back to ‘normal’, but for now it will forever be known as the month when Covid-19 took over the world.  I had been planning my trip back to England ever since I had finished my chemo treatment 16 months earlier yet the planning of where I was going to live and work overseas quickly turned to planning where I was going to spend the next six weeks in lockdown.
I found myself back at my parents house for lockdown and adjusting to life inside our small bubble. The next few weeks seemed like a pretty daunting period with a lot of unknowns and uncertainties ahead. With a parent working on the front line in the hospital, a sister living in Canada and a grandparent going through their own cancer battle, not to mention other friends and family around the world being forced into their own lockdown, the thoughts on the potential impact of Covid-19 quickly took over from the frustration of putting my life on hold again.
Yet after the first 48 hours I realised life inside our Covid-19 bubble was not as bad as I first thought. Spending unexpected time with family throughout the whole of lockdown has been a real bonus and allowed us all to appreciate our time together. From family cooking nights, to watching Netflix series together and just spending time around each other has been a real bonus and something that I have really enjoyed. Whilst we still worry about the impact of Covid-19 we know that the memories of the last 6 weeks will stick around for many years to come.
In some regards New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown has been very similar to my cancer experience. Being isolated and apart from friends and family for an extended period and not being able to venture outside of our bubble, it has allowed a chance to reflect on a few things and re-evaluate plans moving forward. Having that experience to draw on has probably made the transition to lockdown for me easier than most. Whilst I know my plans of heading to the UK are on hold for the time being, I’m happy knowing that if I do stay in New Zealand that we’ve led the world through our Covid-19 response and made our country safe moving forward. 
Throughout the lockdown keeping in touch with friends around the country has been a great way to keep perspective and realise that we are all in this together. From zoom calls over a beer or two, to just a simple text it has been great for all of our mental health and a great way to make sure we’re all okay. Often the news around Covid-19 has been negative and slightly depressing so to be able to have a laugh with a mate, reflect on the good times before lockdown and to start planning our lives after lockdown has kept us going.
Maybe the months of May and June 2020 will be the months where our lives turn back to ‘normal’ but the perception of what is ‘normal’ has completely changed. For me the new normal has made us focus on what is actually important to us and what we care about. Hopefully the care and support we’ve all shown to each other over the lockdown period becomes part of the new normal and the lessons we’ve learned over the past few months stays a part of who we are.  

*For more on Dan's efforts throughout the Movember 2019 campaign click here.